The scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story in junior guard Ryne Panzer’s mind after a 77-44 loss to Sun Prairie in a WIAA Division 1 regional quarterfinal on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at Baraboo High School.
The Panthers trailed 37-27 at the half, then opened the second half with a 10-0 run to tie the game. Oregon junior Deaken Bush converted a 3-point play to start the second half.
“Ryne made a great pass to Deaken for that and-one and that kind of sparked us,” Oregon coach Chris Siebert said. “We just ran out of gas and legs. Sun Prairie is a tough team and they exposed our fatigue.
“Sun Prairie plays a different style where they deny a lot of passes rather than what people call the pack line. Sun Prairie’s length and the amount of athletes they have to keep us in front was impressive.”
Senior Ryne Panzer then hit a 3-pointer. Jaxon Brockman’s 3-point play with 15 minutes, 23 seconds left in the second half tied the game at 37.
Sun Prairie answered, reeling off a 32-5 run to put the game away.
Panzer said for the first half and start of the second half, Oregon played with the Cardinals.
“With 15 minutes left in the second half they just kind of took over,” Panzer said. “I think the first half, we showed we can play with a Division I and Big Eight school. I think we just ran out of legs. The first half we showed we could do it.”
Oregon, (7-7) which entered the postseason on a three-game winning streak, committed 11 turnovers during Sun Prairie’s surge. The Cardinals got out and scored in transition, as junior forward Ben Olson scored 15 of his game-high 23 points during the spurt.
“Sun Prairie just showed they were tougher than us in a way,” Siebert said. “It seems like every time we needed a stop they got the offensive rebound. They were able to get to the spots they wanted to on offense and we had to work a little bit harder to get to those spots.”
The Panthers struggled with the Cardinals’ pressure on-ball defense during that stretch. As the turnovers mounted, the Cardinals’ lead snowballed.
“They are really long and strong,” Panzer said. “With that ball pressure, you can’t see the court as well. They are up in you and you can’t always get around them. That length, ball pressure and athleticism is really hard to overcome sometimes.”
Bush scored a team-high 14 points and Panzer added 13 points for the Panthers. Brockman chipped in nine points.
“Everything looks way better when shots go in,” Siebert said.
Despite a late start and shortened season because of COVID-19 restrictions implemented by Madison Public Health and Dane County, Oregon squeezed 14 games into one month.
“I’m really proud of the kids with the hand they were dealt this year,” Siebert said. “With the practice limitations and playing all of the games on the road, it seems like the only ones who wanted to make the excuses were us coaches. The kids were so excited to be together and such enthusiasm to be playing.”
Oregon will return 10 players next year, including four starters from this season’s team.
“I think we need a good summer to get tougher, stronger and quicker,” Siebert said.
Panzer already has his sights set on what areas he is targeting improvement.
“I want to become better as a team player, defensively especially,” he said. “I want to work on my 3-pointer, ball handling and being more of a traditional point guard and seeing the court better.